Because Gigi Sohn’s nomination to a seat on the FCC expired with the end of the U.S. Senate’s first session of the 117th Congress on Jan. 3, Sohn’s path to office required that President Joe Biden nominate her again — which he did, on Jan. 4. Sohn’s confirmation by the Senate might be difficult to achieve because, if none of the 50 Republican senators vote to confirm, it would require all 50 Democratic senators to vote to confirm, yielding a 50-50 tie vote that the vice president, Kamala Harris, could tip in favor of the nominee with a tiebreaking vote.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) exemplified Republican opposition on Nov. 9, 2021, when he tweeted, “Gigi Sohn is a complete political ideologue who has disdain for conservatives. She would be a complete nightmare for the country when it comes to regulating public airwaves. I will do everything in my power to convince colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject this extreme nominee.”
One Democratic senator, Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), might not vote for Sohn’s confirmation because of a difference in their views on net neutrality. In 2019, Sinema refused to co-sponsor Senate Democrats’ Save the Internet Act, a bill that would permanently codify net neutrality rules into law, Politico reported. Without Sinema’s favorable vote, and if the 50 Republican senators vote no, then Sohn’s nomination would fail.
At present, the FCC has a commissioner and a chairwoman who are Democrats and two commissioners who are Republicans, denying the Democrats a majority. The political balance on the commission leads to passage of regulations with bipartisan support and the delay of regulations that might only have support from the Democrats. Proposed FCC actions requiring a vote of the commissioners do not pass on a 2-2 vote.